Saturday, 2 January 2010

Campaign Against Irish Blasphemy Law

The Atheist Ireland group has published a list of 25 so-called "blasphemies" as part of its campaign to repeal the new Irish Blasphemy Law which came into force yesterday. The 25 quotes include sections from the Bible and the Muslim Hadith and from religious pundits like Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor and Ian Paisley, as well as from well known sceptical writers like Mark Twain, Frank Zappa, Salman Rushdie, Richard Dawkins, and Christopher Hitchens. There are comments on, where Richard Dawkins says he is praoud to be included in this list.

Blasphemy is now a crime in Ireland punishable by a 25,000 Euros fine. The new law defines blasphemy as "publishing or uttering matter that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby intentionally causing outrage among a substantial number of adherents of that religion", with some defences permitted.

Atheist Ireland argues that this new law is both silly and dangerous. It is silly because medieval religious laws have no place in a modern secular republic, where the criminal law should protect people and not ideas. It is dangerous because it encourages religious outrage, and because Islamic States led by Pakistan are already using the wording of this Irish law to promote new blasphemy laws at the UN.

The shooting of a man who was trying to break into the home of one of the Danish cartoonists who drew cartoons of Mohammed is also relevant to this issue.

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